Sports has its share of superheroes.
There's CART driver Helio Castroneves, who's called "Spider-Man" because he follows his victories by climbing fences to celebrate with fans.
And New York Mets third baseman Robin Ventura is nicknamed "Batman" for the aging boy wonder's exploits in Gotham. Holy homeric hacking, indeed!
And now, not to be confused with the Power Rangers, there are the Texas Rangers in Dangerland! - the fearsome foursome of Alex Rodriguez, Ivan Rodriguez, Rafael Palmeiro and the since-released Ken Caminiti.
In a comic book distributed at a recent Rangers game to fans 14 and under, the ballplayers are dispatched to fight a troll named Cantankerous Foil, who has demanded $1 billion or he'll suck all the energy out of Texas (if the last-place Rangers haven't done so already).
It turns out, writes Kevin Sherrington of The Dallas Morning News, that the Rangers "can't beat Seattle with a stick, but they're murder with a rock against a 40-foot green creature."
After the muscle-bound, armor-clad heroes whack Foil's henchmen with their "big peacemaker bats," Ivan Rodriguez flings a rock and destroys his machine. Palmeiro excitedly says: "Maybe you should talk to [manager] Jerry Narron about letting you pitch instead of catch!"
The Dallas Observer's Patrick Williams found it interesting that Caminiti made contact with his peacemaker bat, "considering he hasn't hit anything all season."
But there's a good reason Caminiti is part of the superhero quartet. His agent is Rick Licht, president and CEO of Ultimate Sports Force, which publishes the comic book and others like it.
"They've got the money, they've got the fame," Licht said, explaining the appeal to pro athletes ranging from Karl Malone to Barry Bonds to Chan Ho Park. "Now, they get to be superheroes."
Licht is planning sequels for Dangerland, and Sherrington has a few ideas for him:
The Fantastic Four: The Rangers' pitching rotation strings together four straight shutouts. Editors label the concept "too outlandish" and opt for a scenario where the boys hold at bay a radioactive beaver that threatens all the bats in the Ballpark.
The Return of the Troll: The Fab Four is called to arms again, only to find it's just New York Yankees bench coach and former Rangers manager Don Zimmer.
Now battling, Ichiro-Man
ESPN.com's Page 2 has launched a comic strip called "Ichiro-Man vs. Godzilla," in which the Seattle Mariners' Ichiro Suzuki hears on his wristband Internet radio that the famed movie monster has been spotted in Seattle.
Using his magic bat, the Ichiro character transforms himself into a mega-sized hero, but Godzilla, angry that the Japanese star has stolen his thunder, opens fire on the still-being-built Seahawks' stadium.
"Impressive, Godzilla-san," Suzuki says. "It's unfortunate you did not destroy Paul Allen's E.M.P. Building instead."
To be continued.
Money for nothing
Todd McFarlane, who created the Spawn comic book character, knows that his $2.7 million investment in Mark McGwire's 70th home run ball might become worthless if Barry Bonds or Luis Gonzalez were to have a big finish this season and break the single-year mark.
"Yeah, I'm getting those calls already," McFarlane said. "I'm the village idiot, the fool who will have a $4 baseball if Bonds hits 71."
McFarlane said he'll be "standing and cheering and rooting for Barry right up until No. 69, but then I'll sit down. Then I'm going to sit in the outfield with a sign, `Barry, don't hit it here. It would be divine if you stop at 69.' "
If all else fails, McFarlane is hoping that if Bonds reaches the magical 70 mark, he blasts the ball into McCovey Cove and "a whale comes along and swallows the ball."
Roughing it? No longer
When former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson was in prison, much was made of his contention that he was holed up in his cell reading the classics, including those by Tolstoy, Voltaire and Mark Twain.
But after his release, he apparently eased demands on his intellect.
Asked about his current reading list, Tyson answered: "I read the Marvel [comic books]. That stuff. When I was in prison I was wrapped up in all those deep books. That Tolstoy crap. People shouldn't read that stuff. When we read these books what purpose does it serve in this day and time?"
The places she'll go
Wimbledon champion Venus Williams, speaking of her tennis priorities:
"Grand Slams definitely are No. 1. Then No. 2, for sure, is No. 1."
She laughed at the unintentional word play.
"Oh boy, that sounds like a Dr. Seuss book."
Neither rain, nor sleet ...
In a Karl Malone comic book, the NBA's "Mailman" battles mail pirates several centuries into the future after getting unfrozen.
Wrote Steve Rosenbloom in the Chicago Tribune, "And the way they froze Malone, of course, was to tell him he was in the Finals against Michael Jordan again."
Hall of Fame catcher Yogi Berra was reading a comic book during his playing days while roommate Bobby Brown, later to become a doctor, was poring over Gray's Anatomy.
When Berra finished his publication, he asked Brown: "How did yours come out?"
Compiled from wire reports and Web sites.